Gosick I – Afterword

Hello, everyone. I’m Kazuki Sakuraba.

Allow me to present to you my new series, “Gosick”. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

*****

…By the way, right now, which happens to be around mid-November, I’m under the greatest pressure that I’ve experienced all year. This is due to an e-mail that I received last night from my editor Mr. K-dou, who has always been extremely helpful to me. He just had a minor request, but in a certain sense, there was nothing minor about it.

That request was for me to write a handwritten message to the readers that would be included with an illustration by Hinata Takeda, which would then be distributed to bookstores as a storefront advertisement. Oh, I did feel quite honored to be the subject of such an ad. But then I got to the end of the e-mail:

“And could you write something like ‘I hope you’ll enjoy Gosick! ~ Kazuki Sakuraba’, only phrase it like a dreamy-eyed1 high school girl. Thanks!”

This put me under an incredible amount of pressure. So I wrote. I went through around twenty different revisions in half a day, just writing, crumpling the paper up into a ball and throwing it away, write, crumple, throw…. almost like a comedy sketch about some author in the olden days. The desperation!

So I ended up spending about five times what it took to write this afterword on that dreamy-eyed message, going back and forth, wondering the whole time, are they really going to use this…. If you happen to find it in a bookstore window, please take a few moments to give it a close look. If there isn’t enough dreaminess in it, I sincerely apologize. I will endeavor to improve in the future.

*****

Speaking of high school girls, although I used to be one myself, I don’t think I spent much time in a dreamy-eyed state. The letters I wrote were also normal ones. Let me think back a bit. …All I remember is cutting class so I could go devour books in the library; going home from club activities (I was in the tennis club) with the other girls and stopping by this bakery that we always used to visit; eating popsicles while we chatted about fashion and movies. Now that I think of it, when I read “Azumanga Daioh”, I remember nodding to myself, thinking my own high school life was pretty much like that….

Oh, but as for the tennis club, I do have a story about that, when I used to be a member of the Last Bloomer Team of the East Yonago High School Tennis Club. But it was too interesting of a story, so I decided to save it for the end of this afterword. My afterword is going to be a long one this time. I have to use a gimmick like in a variety show to keep you interested until the very end. So please stick around for awhile, por favor.

My dreamy-eyed material already took up two pages, but there’s something else I should get to first. Prior to the release of this novel, I also started to write a series of Gosick short stories in the December issue of Dragon Magazine, as part of the Dragon Cup competition. We still don’t know the results, or rather it hasn’t ended yet. The novel release was also timed to go along with the short stories, in case those who have read the stories and gotten interested in the series also feel like getting their hands on the novel. But even if you haven’t been following along in the magazine, you’ll still be able to read this novel and enjoy it from the beginning. So I hope you’ll like it.

*****

By the way, my editor Mr. K-dou is the one who titled this series “Gosick”. Other writers often use the English word “brain-dead” to refer to him in their own afterwords: “Brain-dead Mr. K”. “What’s ‘brain-dead’?” I always wondered, as someone not particularly good at English. Brain death…? But from the way they use it, it can’t mean that. They use it to mean that he’s an idea man or a brainstormer, so basically the complete opposite. And he is certainly that kind of person, and I am personally very grateful to him.

And according to this Mr. K-dou, the title “Gosick” has a surface meaning and a hidden meaning. As for the hidden meaning, like I said before, I’m not very good at English, so I had no inkling of this, but it pretty much means, “Ms. Sakuraba is surrounded by weirdos.” Surrounded by weirdos… A lot of people come to mind, but I would probably get into trouble if I were to tell any stories about my writer friends (even if I don’t really mind getting into trouble), so I’ve decided to sacrifice one of my closest girlfriends, and tell a story about a weirdo (I still haven’t written the story about the Bloomer Team).

*****

[Part One]

My friend stole a stone lion.

By stone lion, I’m referring to those stone things placed at either side of shrine entrances. She rolled them away on a dolly, in Shinjuku on a night of a raging typhoon with tornado-force winds. I wonder what was going through her mind at the time.

My friend is petite, with these big, beautiful eyes. She’s a middle school math teacher. To tell you the truth, I used her as the model for Miss Cécile. I’m not just pretty sure, I’m very sure that she’s popular with her students. Popular enough to make kids go dreamy-eyed over her. But she’s also very strange. I’m sure the students don’t know about that part (since adults are cunning creatures, and have weird sides to them that they only show to their closest friends).

She explained to me that a neighborhood shrine was closing for renovations, and she was afraid they would get rid of these “stone lions with cute faces” that she liked very much, so she called her co-worker who owned a car and asked her to become her accomplice in stealing those lions. And she was turned down (like you’d expect). Left with no other option, she borrowed a dolly, and in the middle of a typhoon, snuck into the shrine, which was a construction zone and covered with a blue vinyl tarp, and exerted superhuman strength to pick up the stone lions and put them on the dolly. When she gazed into the eyes of the lions under the pouring rain, in that moment she knew that they were destined to meet (in her words). And then one of the construction workers came out from behind her and yelled something at her. She thought maybe he was offering to help, but at that point she was already so pumped up by the thought of bringing the stone lions all the way back to her home under her own power, that she just waved him off and made her escape, rolling her handcart down the Koushuu Highway.

The first time she told me about this, when she got to the part about the man calling out, “Let me help you!” … I had my doubts. I’m sure he said something more like, “Stop, stone lion thief!” When I calmly pointed this out to her while sitting in a local Okinawan restaurant, listening to her tell this story, she just laughed. But the next day, I received a strongly worded e-mail that she had sent from one of her school’s computers. She wouldn’t budge an inch. Teachers sure are stubborn.

That reminds me: this friend recently called me from school on her lunch break. This was while I was spending hours on end doing my impression of a writer in the olden days. She said:

Stone Lion Thief: Hey, do you wanna go see “Kill Bill”?
Kazuki Sakuraba: Ha, you sure picked a weird movie to invite someone to.
Stone Lion Thief: But you’re the only one I can think of who’d come see a weird movie like that. Let’s go this weekend.
Kazuki Sakuraba: …Actually, I already saw it last weekend.
Stone Lion Thief: Eww, you weirdo!

…And then she hung up the phone. She sounded really indignant. By the way, there’s another part to the stone lion story. After she arrived at home soaking wet, as soon as she rolled the stone lions into her room, the female American Shorthair cat she kept in her room (she named her KimuTaku) started yowling and running around like she’d gone crazy, and wouldn’t stop. My friend freaked out, thinking that the stone lions must’ve been haunted by something, and she pushed them out onto her veranda. Once she did that, KimuTaku went back to being her usual KimuTaku self. It’s a strange ending, almost like something out of a horror movie. Anyway, I think it’s wrong to steal things.

[Part Two]

After that story, whatever I end up writing won’t have much impact….

One of the more advanced female students at the karate dojo I attend burnt her nostrils.

She’s very strong and beautiful, an office lady, the wise and mature sort, and was a national champion in the women’s lightweight class. By the way, I participated in the same competition at a much, much lower level, and lost. But never mind about that. She is strong and beautiful, but has an unexpected weak point. This is the fact that she is prone to nosebleeds. Her explanation was that she was born with thin mucous membranes in her nose, so she often experienced nosebleeds in class as far back as elementary school. Even after she grew up, whenever she exercised and got her circulation going, her face, wearing a look of concentration, would suddenly explode in a geyser of blood. This also sometimes happened during practices in the dojo, so we would all have to run up to her, holding tissue boxes, towels, and mops, and shouting, “Sempai!”

Of course this would also happen during matches, so this one time before a particularly important tournament, she consulted with a local ENT, and he had the inside of her nostrils burnt with chemicals so she wouldn’t get a nosebleed. The day of the tournament, she confidently declared to us, her assistants, “I’ll be fine today. I burnt my nostrils!”

According to her ENT, she would have fewer nosebleeds for the next month. The rest of us looked at each other, and skeptically replied, “Got it.”

And then the match was on. She won by ippon and advanced to the next round, just like we knew she would. She’s so strong! So cool! We forgot our initial misgivings and cheered for her until our voices went hoarse. Then the semifinals began, and there was one minute left. It was a close match, and the audience was going wild. And then…

Splurt!

…Blood came gushing out, just like I thought would happen. They halted the match, and next thing we heard was the announcer’s voice crackling over the PA system: “We will resume proceedings as soon as the participant’s nose stops bleeding.”

We hung our heads. I heard someone mutter dejectedly, “But she even burned it and everything,” but that voice was soon drowned out by all the commotion in the hall….

[Part Three]

In the minds of the readers, a beautiful karate master who sprays blood profusely from her nose may sound like a vision from hell, but I will nevertheless continue onto the next story. This one is also about a good-looking friend, but she also has somewhat of a permanent sourpuss, and I’ve heard people say that she would be more popular if only she weren’t so intimidating. She is a nurse, and as long as she keeps her mouth shut, she’s an angel in white. But once she opens it, she can be merciless (especially to boys).

One morning, while washing her face, the pinky finger of her right hand slipped inside her nostril and jabbed the back of her nose, and she ended up with such a violent nosebleed that she was late reporting for work at the hospital.

…I’m sorry; that’s all I have. It’s just that if I start writing about nosebleeds, then I’m immediately reminded of her.

[Part Four]

This is another story about that sour-faced angel. I think she might not be too good at getting other people’s sense of humor, and it can be hard to kid around with her. But although you might not expect it of her, she has a tendency to do things that make her the butt of jokes. One of those things happens to be her underwear.

She wears a golden bra.

This summer, the four of us girls took a trip to Phuket, the isle of eternal summer. The beach! Fruits! Muay Thai! We stayed at a pretty fancy hotel where there were a lot of couples on their honeymoon. We spent five nights there, and since it was just us women, some of us would use the bathroom to wash and dry our underwear.

One morning, I woke up and went to the bathroom, and inside was a glittering golden bra that had been hung to dry.

I looked away.

Then looked back again.

The bra was still there. It was no illusion; it truly existed right before my eyes.

This was very puzzling. I silently washed my face, brushed my teeth, and came back out, and found two other ladies who had gotten up earlier, sitting in their beds with stony looks on their faces. We kept sneaking peeks at each other, before quickly looking away … until finally one brave person decided to open her mouth.

Stone Lion Thief: It’s not mine.
Kazuki Sakuraba: …It isn’t mine either.
Another Person: Not me!

And then the three of us slowly turned to look at the last remaining person… the Sour-faced Angel, who was still sleeping peacefully in her bed. She was so scary when she was awake, but when she was asleep like this, she wasn’t saying anything at all, and she truly looked like an angel.

While she slept, we settled on a nickname for her by unanimous vote: “The Golden Bra”. The Stone Lion Thief rolled around in glee. When The Golden Bra finally woke up, she was furious with us, and angrily protested, “Why are you calling me that?! Stop it! Call me by my real name!” But she was outnumbered and overruled.

But still…

I never would’ve expected that a cool beauty like her, who never cracked so much as a smile, would wear underwear that looked like something you’d find on a Las Vegas showgirl. I wish I hadn’t forgotten to ask her where she bought it. Maybe at Don Quijote…?

If I had to force this story into having a moral, then it’s that there are certain things you can only find out about people when they strip down to their underwear. Yeah, I was pretty shocked.

*****

…Why was I telling all these stories again? Oh, right, because this afterword has more pages than usual. But I made it through. Let’s hope my friends don’t read this book.

Now it’s time to write the story of the Last Bloomer Team of the East Yonago High School Tennis Club. Well, actually, it isn’t that interesting of a story. The tennis club I joined was straightforwardly divided into two divisions: tennis, which was more hardcore, and soft tennis, which was more informal. The most trying aspect of the stricter tennis division that I joined was their over ten-year-long “tradition” that new members be required to wear bloomers for one year.

And my image of outfits in the tennis club had been so much cuter!

The second and third year students wore these white fluffy miniskirts called skorts, under which they had lacy shorts. But the first-years were only allowed to wear a T-shirt and bloomers. The T-shirts were so long that it wouldn’t have made a difference if one day we forgot to wear trousers underneath. And to make matters worse, whenever we were seen around school, the gakuran-clad cheering section would jeer, “Team Bloomers! It’s Team Bloomers! Go get ’em!” We would hit them with our tennis rackets, but they would just laugh. I suppose it was very amusing for them.

The worst part of all was that we had to leave the school grounds dressed like that and go running around in the street, shouting “East High! Fight, fight!” at the top of our lungs. Of course, that meant the rest of the neighborhood was familiar with the existence of Team Bloomers, too. We must have looked pretty stupid.

Then at long last, a year had passed, and just when I thought I would finally get to wear skorts! fluffy lacy skorts! the final tragedy occurred.

The next member who became club president suddenly declared, “I’ve had enough of these meaningless traditions. Starting this year, everyone can wear skorts.” I guess you could say she was a reformer. Wh-what a sudden development! What was the point of that whole year we had spent skort-less, then…?

So as of that year, the Bloomer Team was no more, and we ended up going shopping with the first years to buy skorts, with the heavy cross of the “Last Bloomer Team” borne on our backs (I believe there were seven of us in all)…. It somehow sounds so plain compared to the other stories.

*****

Oh, this afterword is so long! If you have read this far, I am truly grateful.

Now it’s about time that I wrap this up.

First of all, thank you once again to my editor Mr. K-dou, and to all of those who have been of such enormous help to me. Thank you so much to the illustrator Hinata Takeda for creating such adorable, luminous drawings of a heroine so different from her cheerful, smiling Yaeka. Even when Victorique is sulking, I just want to poke her chubby cheeks. I love it! Thank you.

And thank you to all of those who are reading this book. If you’ve had a good time reading it, that alone makes me very happy. See you again next time!

Kazuki Sakuraba

*****

Beans Bunko Edition Afterword

Dear Beans Bunko readers: pleased to meet you! (And to those who have already been reading, it’s truly, truly good to see you after such a long time. Thank you very much for remembering this series and picking up this edition.)

I’m Kazuki Sakuraba. *takes a bow*

*****

The Gosick series started out at the end of 2003 on another imprint belonging to the Kadokawa Group, Fujimi Mystery Bunko. I was originally one of six unknown writers who were each asked to contribute a short story for a competition at a certain monthly magazine, and the readers would vote to select which one would get serialized. But the votes for my story sadly fell short, and I lost. (I have memories of someone telling me that I came in second or third, and of me rolling around on the floor and wailing….) However, thanks to the support of the readers (y-you’re all lifesavers. Thank you for your help at just the right time), it ended up getting serialized in a quarterly magazine instead.

The series made it to nine volumes, and then the label and the magazine both folded. In September 2009 they were republished under the Kadokawa Bunko imprint with new covers. When they informed me about the reason for the new covers, they said that since Kadokawa Bunko had readers from a wide range of age groups, they thought it best to remove the illustrations that were geared more toward young people. As the author, on one hand I understood the decision, but on the other hand, I felt that those wonderful illustrations were an important part of the series. So ever since the first installment (that time when I lost that competition… ugh, I feel like rolling around on the floor again….), it feels like I’ve been walking together with Hinata Takeda’s depictions of Victorique. When I was wishing that there could be some way to bring back the illustrated version, a representative from Beans Bunko asked if there was anything they could do. And that’s how this edition ended up before your eyes.

So…

If you find these books to your liking, that would make me very happy. *heart thumping*

*****

The story begins when a mysterious girl with golden hair meets a boy from an island country in the Far East who came to study in the tiny European nation of Sauvure. The books that end in “S” are short story collections.

In chronological order:
GosickS I—The Reaper Who Comes in Spring
Gosick I
Gosick II—The Crime Without a Name
Gosick III—Under the Blue Rose
Gosick IV—Speaker for a Fool
GosickS II—A Train Away from Summer
Gosick V—Beelzebub’s Skull
Gosick VI—The Night of the Masquerade
GosickS III—Memories of Autumn Flowers
Gosick VII—The Rose-Colored Life

And to add another medium to the mix, there will be an anime airing on TV Tokyo starting January 2011. DVD and Blu-Ray preorders are already in progress. In addition, the manga version by Sakuya Amano (Fujimi Shobo) is currently on its sixth volume, and Takeshi Moriki‘s series of slice-of-life yonkoma and short stories, “Gosick W“, is being carried by Monthly Comp Ace, accompanied by a supplemental series of yonkoma called “Miss Victorique” by Mako Aboshi. If you’re interested, then I hope you’ll have fun trying out all of the above.

I also have other works starring female protagonists in modern-day Japan: “Red X Pink”, “Presumed: Girl”, “A Lollypop or a Bullet”, “Rowan Girl and the Seven Pitiful Adults”, which are being released as part of Kadokawa Bunko’s “Sakuraba Kazuki Collection” (kind of like a private label; you can spot them by their cute plaid covers!).

And then, and then! Gosick’s illustrator Hinata Takeda has some manga series of her own: “Yaeka’s Veterinary Charts”, “Crossroads in a Foreign Labyrinth”, and “Fox and Atori”. When my editor and I first laid eyes on her gorgeous artwork, we were extremely impressed, and immediately wanted her to draw the illustrations for Gosick.

Let me take a deep breath here. This series has been running for a long time, so there are a lot more announcements than I had expected. But I’m done now! Thank you for reading all the way to the end.

Gosick has been able to weather a dizzying array of changing fads in the industry and survive over a long period of time, and there are a lot of people who have helped me make it to this point. I especially want to thank my editor at Fujimi Mystery Bunko, Hirotake Kudou2, for working with me as my producer and helping get the series off the ground; Akiko Kaneko for utilizing her many talents in handling the changeover to the new covers at Kadokawa Bunko and with the anime adaptation project; and also Maho Sakauchi2 (who ate 2.7 kg of red bean paste when she was in high school), who will be assisting me from now on at Beans Bunko. And there are so, so many others who have saved me over the years, and helped me get to where I am today.

But above all, I want to thank the readers! Whether you are reading my books for the first time, or have been reading from the beginning, I am truly thankful!

By simply reading and enjoying this series, the author and the characters both feel very honored.

That’s all for now. I hope to see you again!

Kazuki Sakuraba

February 2011

(After the Fujimi Mystery Bunko edition was published in December 2003, it was republished in September 2009 by Kadokawa Bunko.
Because the afterword is reprinted from the Fujimi Mystery Bunko edition, all of the information regarding dates of upcoming publications and magazine appearances are from the perspective of the original edition published in 2003.)

1The word her editor used was “hanyaan” à la Sakura Kinomoto.
2I wasn’t able to locate official pronunciations of these individuals’ names, so this is just my guess based on common readings of those characters.

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4 Responses to Gosick I – Afterword

  1. Thanks so much for the complete translation of the afterword. It seems like Sakuraba-sensei likes to write a lot on her afterword, and it’s enlightening that Cecile was actually based on a friend of hers. I’m looking forward to the afterwords of the other volumes, as it would be a nice sneak peek into Sakuraba-sensei’s life.

    • agrifolia says:

      The length of the afterword is determined by the publisher. I don’t know why she was allotted so many pages for her Gosick afterwords when most other LN authors may only get 2-5 pages. (However, Gosick 7-8b and S IV didn’t have afterwords, probably because that’s more of an LN convention and Kadokawa Bunko is a mainstream book imprint.)

      From reading the afterword for GosickS I, I thought Kazuya also seemed to be partly inspired by her grandfather. And I’ve read somewhere, I forgot if it was in one of the later afterwords or an interview, that Victorique was also based on a real person whom she knew: a prim and proper lady who would get very abusive whenever she interacted with a certain male individual, and eventually figured out that it was because she was in love with him.

      • Upon reading GosickS’ afterword again, it seems that you’re right, although I find that her grandfather is more quirky than Kazuya. I could see the similarities on the “curiosity aspect”, though.

        Sad that we would never see the afterword for the climactic volumes and the finale.

        • agrifolia says:

          If Kazuya was inspired by her grandfather, maybe it was just in a loose sense. Her grandfather’s odd behavior sounds like senility setting in. And I think Kazuya would never have qualified as one of those dandified “modern boys;” his family was too conservative to allow that, and he was far too serious himself to be interested in being fashionable. But a reserved and easygoing boy in the Taisho era who was curious about Western things sounds like him, and I can easily imagine Kazuya becoming a botanist, getting inspired by the exotic plants in the conservatory…. Volume VIIIb never states what his profession is as an adult, although it says that he does have his own job separate from Victorique. So we the readers can only speculate what it is.

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